Indieview #16 — datcravat, Artist

Welcome to the sixteenth issue of Indieview! Indieview is an interview series where I speak with a special guest who works on personal or business projects related to games, whether they’re an artist, a composer, a streamer, a writer, or otherwise.

This week I’m joined by a very talented artist who makes the desktop wallpapers I use on both my personal and work laptops… it’s cravat! Yes, dat one! You might’ve seen her artwork around, especially if you follow a few voice-actors and actresses who’ve commissioned her, but you should totally check out her work on Twitter, Instagram, Patreon (those wallpapers are delivered to you monthly for only £1!) and her very own web store before continuing to read on!

Aerith, Final Fantasy VII

Mitch: I realise this intro does very little other than say, “cravat makes art!!”, so could you please expand on yourself and what you do?

cravat: Sure thing :) Thank you for having me. I’m datcravat, and I’ve been making fanart online since I was 14! I’m 24 now. In the past two years, my art has gained a lot more attention and it’s now what I do for a living.

Mitch: Wow, I certainly wasn’t as put together at 24, haha! Let’s start with a tough one! What four pieces of your work would you pick if you were being featured in an anime/Japanese games gallery?

cravat: Oooh, that is tough! I would have to say… Jessie and James, Giovanna, Office Peach, and Tifa & Aerith in Persona style.

Jessie and James, Pokemon

Mitch: What, or who, inspired you to create art? Is it something you’ve been doing since you were a child? I know you’re a little bit of a Shigenori Soejima fan!

cravat: Yeah, I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. We all draw as kids, right? I guess I just didn’t stop or outgrow it. It’s impossible to pick only a few things that inspired me to create art — so much inspired me and still does. The world around has so many beautiful little things in it, and the way some people captivate life in art just blows my mind! Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 definitely inspired me a lot — the OG trilogy shows off the amazing things you can pull off if you know colour theory and I always thought 2 and 3 in particular were so gorgeous. The 2005 reboot of Doctor Who also had a lot of fun visuals that made me want to make my own visuals. When it comes to other artists, Soejima is a big one, yes! Then there’s Kuvshinov Ilya, Zeronisart, Lavelis, Hungryclicker, Neecosiah, Bellhenge… this list could go on forever!

Mitch: That’s an interesting comment on Crash Bandicoot that I’d never have thought of, but it goes to show the eye for art you have! You’ve been commissioned by a few people to commission characters they’ve voiced which is very cool! What’s that like? I’m sure a little cravat’s mind would be blown.

cravat: OH ABSOLUTELY. The first time it happened (it was Erika Harlacher commissioning Ann Takamaki) I immediately was showing off the DMs from these voice actors to all my friends, freaking out, and I may have cried a tiny bit. Since then I’m definitely more used to it? But it still makes my heart leap every time a voice actor asks, and I feel the pressure HARD on voice actor commissions!! But it’s so worth it — it’s a rare opportunity and I can’t just not make the most of it.

Ami, Toradora

Mitch: It’s such a great opportunity, and it’s always lovely to see voice-actors/actresses so fond of their own characters! Just waiting to see that 2B now, huh?

I own a few of your prints and your wallpapers decorate both my personal and work computers! Are there any plans for a cravat scrapbook/collection of sorts? Please put me on the list if you do!

cravat: There aren’t unfortunately!! There’s only so much I can monetize without Nintendo & SEGA coming after me, ahaha. I’ll have to look into what’s possible sometime. Thank you much, it’s mad you’d be interested in something like that!! I never even thought of it. But now I will, ahah.

Mitch: Hahaha, that’s a very fair point! If it ever does happen, I’ll definitely be among the first buyers! What equipment do you use for creating your art?

cravat: My Huion Kamvas GT-221 pro!! It’s an old monitor tablet by Huion, they don’t make them any more. But I’ll probably be upgrading soon!! XP-pen are sending me one of their new tablets!! I can’t believe it!! I hope it all works and everything goes through. I have to make a review of it so you’ll probably know all about that next month.

I use Paint Tool SAI 2 to draw in (primitive I know) and will dip into CSP to make any complex edits, then use Photoscape X to apply final filters. I really recommend SAI if you’re new to digital art and want a program that isn’t crazy and overwhelming!

Giovanna, Guilty Gear Strive

Mitch: What has been a difficult piece of art for you to create? With absolutely no knowledge at all on what you find difficult, I can only imagine the group Persona 5 one you did a few years ago wasn’t easy.

cravat: The group Persona 5 one with Yusuke clutching his sketchbook? YES, that one was so difficult to do at the time!! Nowadays I’d definitely do it very differently, there’d be all sorts of shading things happening and the faces and anatomy would probably look a little better, ahah. It was so hard! I sent WIPs to discord servers & friends and family for weeks on end, it was a HUGE struggle. You hit the nail on the head with that! Recently, every piece is a small struggle ahaha. Jessie & James and Office Peach are the only ones I’d say where I didn’t struggle.

Mitch: Yes hahaha, I’ve always liked it but it’s always looked like Isuch a complicated piece! What is it like looking at your older work? I always enjoy seeing those art comparison posts that span a decade or so to see how far people have come, and I think it motivates other aspiring artists.

cravat: It motivates jaded professionals too, ahaha. If you’re drawing, you’re an artist! That’s what I think. I love looking at my older work, especially if it’s absolutely awful. It reminds me I’ve come a long way! Please save your artwork, even if you dislike it. Future you might thank you!

Mythra, Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Mitch: I think that’s very good advice, and I’d definitely echo the thought that if you do something, you are it, regardless of your level of success. What’s one piece of yours that has performed very well on social that maybe you didn’t expect to do so well?

cravat: OFFICE PEACH. My goodness, the thirst that was unleashed on that day. That artwork is so so simple and took me only a couple hours to draw! I thought it was good and cute. I was not expecting it to be my best performing artwork of all time on twitter. But I’m not complaining!

Mitch: I won’t lie cravat, if you told me in advance you were drawing Office Peach and didn’t expect her to do well, I’d most definitely have questioned you on that, hahaha! I hope you’ll be doing more office-themed pieces, especially since you’ve done Daisy too! Can you tell us more about your Patreon? The wallpapers and print club are very cool and of great value!

cravat: Oh absolutely!! Any excuse to do that ahaha, thank you for bringing it up. So the main things I offer are the wallpapers for $1, then the layer files and WIP shots for $5, and then prints sent in the mail for $20. There are a lot of smaller rewards sprinkled in too!! We also have a community discord where we chat together and show art around. I love the community that’s formed. It’s grown a lot over the past year and a half, and every time I get used to managing the numbers, more people show up!! It’s been madness!! But everyone’s support keeps me afloat, it’s incredible stuff and hurts my brain to think about. You all are great, thank you.

Princess Peach (Office), Super Mario Series

Mitch: I LOVE those wallpapers!! I’m really curious — Genshin Impact is, safe to say, a bit of a big thing, and I wonder if creating art based on those characters has been impactful? That is one passionate community!

cravat: ABSOLUTELY. That summer Jean commission caused an explosion because the Genshin fandom is so large, and I drew an official commission that ended up having many mistakes and a weird-looking arm. It’s definitely not my finest work — and hearing the feedback be so much more mixed than usual helped me realise that if I’m not feeling inspired, not to force it! Because the work won’t be as good. I’m sure this applies to most artists.

Mitch: I think it’s a great piece, and I certainly think there’s a good way to offer constructive criticism and unfortunately that wasn’t quite it, but I also think you have a good way of looking at it so I’m happy to hear you’re not too down on it.

You’ve announced that you’re attending some conventions later this year. Can you recap those here, please?

cravat: Yeah baby! London MCM, then Birmingham MCM. It’s been so long!! They’re big UK conventions, and are so incredibly fun to attend. I’ll be sitting behind a table selling prints and yelling at people that I love their cosplay. Please come and say hi!

Jean, Genshin Impact

Mitch: If I’m there I’ll definitely come say hi! What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are following in your footsteps?

cravat: If you want to make art full time as a freelancer, you have to learn boring business stuff too! Keep that in mind. It doesn’t ruin my experience, but it sure is a pain ahaha. When you start running a patreon and a shop, you will get lots of little messages and emails from paying customers relating to orders/pledges you must sort out. It takes up a lot of time, and all this time is spent hunched over at a computer. Remember to take care of your body — eat good, stretch and exercise. You make your best art with a healthy body! Give yourself superpowers and keep healthy!

And learning how to do things isn’t necessarily key when it comes to drawing — learning how to learn to do things I think is what really supercharges your improvement. When you can look at a technique you want to recreate, and there are no tutorials in sight, it’s very useful to have the ability to figure things out! I’m still working on it of course, I’m still improving. We’ll improve together! Try new things out! Get out of your comfort zone! Make art that flops. You’ll be okay. :)

Mitch: Ah yes, having to do your own taxes… always a fun time from my freelance days…

Where are the best places for people to find you online, and to buy your work?

cravat: The places you listed at the top are pretty good! Twitter, patreon… datcravat.bigcartel.com is my prints shop, but currently it’s under maintenance. It shall be up soon!

Dorothea, Fire Emblem Three Houses

Mitch: The Great Ace Attorney art when???? This actually ties in to me asking you about your commissions!

cravat: Funnily enough, I was invited by art god Qosic to take part in a Great Ace Attorney zine they’re hosting!! It’s invite-only, so it’s all quite la-di-dah. I’ll be making a piece for the zine!

You’d like to commission me eh? >.>

Mitch: Oh wow, good timing, hahaha! Is there anyone or anything you’d like to plug today? Please, go ahead! Although it’s safe to say your platform is bigger than mine, haha!

I solemnly swear to commmission you at least once, and I would very much like to. I respect the hustle hahaha!

cravat: You’ve given me so much plugging opportunities already!! Oooh, you are spoiling me!! If you like the artworks, you can find me in the links Mitch has provided at the top. Also, please tell Mitch he’s cool and nice.

Makoto, Persona 5

Mitch: Ahh, that’s so sweet, I’ll blush! …For real, haha, thank you. Okay, last one! cravat, what games are you playing and what anime are you watching?

cravat: I’m playing Apex Legends and TWEWY NEO, and I haven’t watched anime in a couple years. ^^” Or any shows really! It’s rare for me to watch programs, I’m more of a gamer. >.> Maybe you could recommend something!

Mitch: Ooh, snap, me too! I think I’d be out of my day job if I couldn’t recommend an anime, so I’d definitely recommend SK8 the Infinity, Fruits Basket, Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, The Quintessential Quintuplets and WONDER EGG PRIORITY (this one deals with a lot, so might be looking up topics it deals with first, though) from recent years though!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Indieview #16 with datcravat. I’ll be back with another Indieview in the near future, so thanks for reading, thank you to my guest, and I hope to see you all again soon!

Writing a novel | Communications Associate at Funimation UK | Hang around for #Indieview, Otome, and maybe a little more!